Wisconsin State Law Library

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WSLL @ Your Service   October, 2005
An E-publication of the Wisconsin State Law Library

What's New

WSLL welcomes two new part time staff members who joined us in August.

Kristin Jacobson is our new filing assistant. Besides keeping our books up to date with new filing and pocket parts, she also fills in at the Circulation Desk and works in Document Delivery. Kristin also works at the Madison Public Library as a shelver and in their “lower stacks” area. She previously worked as an office assistant at a Madison law firm, during which time she was an occasional WSLL customer. Kristin is a graduate of the UW Madison with a degree in English and Literature, and she’s preparing to start library school in fall 2006.


Timothy Vollmer is our new shelving assistant, and he also works at the Circulation Desk and in Document Delivery. Timothy is also employed at Madison Public Library, where he is a Page at the Circulation Desk. He has a B.A. in Legal Studies and Sociology from the UW-Madison, and he plans to enroll in library school in the near future. In his spare time, Timothy co-hosts the show “Radio Awesome,” Thursdays 8-9 p.m. on WSUM 91.7 FM, the UW-Madison student-run radio station.

Welcome, Kristin and Timothy!

This Just In... -- Pete Boll   @ Your Service – Connie Von Der Heide

This month’s featured titles include:

UPDATED! Elder Rights and Benefits, 2005 edition / by Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups. CWAG, 2005
Call Number: KFW 2491 .A3 E4

Winner of the 2004 National Mature Media Award, this resource guide provides a wealth of useful and important information for older people in Wisconsin and those who care for them. This resource packs over 265 pages of information on topics such as income maintenance programs, SSI, Medicare, housing, transportation, advance planning alternatives, elder abuse, and pensions and retirement accounts. It also features an extensive resource directory that for the first time includes websites of interest.

NEW! Children in the Courtroom: Challenges for Lawyers and Judges / by Sherrie Bourg Carter. National Institute for Trial Advocacy, 2005
Call Number: KF 9673 .B68 2005

Sherrie Bourg Carter, co-director of the Institute for Behavioral Sciences and the Law in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is a nationally recognized forensic psychologist with expertise in criminal, civil, and family psycho-legal matters. Her publication provides attorneys and judges with critical information needed to properly review and handle cases involving child witnesses. Here are some of the chapter titles:

  • Legal Issues, competency to testify, emotional availability and hearsay
  • Interview Procedures and Techniques, strategies, format and settings
  • Legally Relevant Development Issues, concepts of time, distance, and size
  • Child Witnesses in the Courtroom, reducing anxiety, alternatives to in-court testimony, and direct and cross-examination.

The Appendix contains a Child Witness Questioning Guide for Competency to Testify Assessment and Child Sexual Abuse Case Sample Questions.

Check our library catalog for availability of these or other materials you may need. For additional assistance, please contact our Reference Desk.

This new, occasional column will highlight a particular State Law Library department or service. We hope it helps you become more familiar with all the ways we work to provide you with excellent service! -- Editor

The State Law Library Reference Desk
If you’ve ever contacted the library for help with a law-related question, then you’ve probably worked with the people who staff our Reference Desk. The Reference Desk operates 8:30-4:45 Monday through Friday, and is rotationally staffed by eight members of the library staff: Heidi, Jane, Amy, Julie, Elaine, Pete, Angela and Connie. These eight people have a combined total of nearly 90 years of State Law Library Reference Desk experience!

The purpose of the Reference Desk is to help people find answers to their legal information or research questions. We typically do this by directing customers to authoritative library resources, such as a statute section, law treatise or journal article, or by referring them to another agency, library, or organization with resources more appropriate to answer the particular question.

Who may use the services of our Reference Desk? Anyone. Many of our customers are attorneys and court staff, but we also assist government employees, business people, librarians, and many citizens. Our statistics show that we average 150 inquiries per week, or 30 per day. Some are made by people who are in the library, and many others are received by phone, email and fax from across the state and around the country. We respond to most inquiries the same day they are received.

What do people ask us? Questions range from the basic, such as a request for a copy of a specific statute section or court opinion, to the more complex; for example, helping someone get started on a legislative history search, or a request for superseded versions of a Wisconsin Administrative Code chapter or section. Some inquiries fall outside the scope of our service. Examples include requests for an interpretation of the law, or questions such as “Is that legal (or illegal)?” or “What are my rights in this situation?” Answering such questions would constitute giving legal advice, which by law can only be done by an attorney.

For more information about our reference service and how to contact us, please visit our Reference Assistance webpage. We look forward to helping you find resources to answer your next legal information question!

WSLL Web -- Elaine Sharp Tech Tip in Brief -- Heidi Yelk

Revised WSLL Website Topics

Want to know how the legal system works? Our recently revised Court System page provides links to basic information about Wisconsin and federal courts as well as to general information about the legal system.

We’ve also reorganized and updated our Civil Law & Procedure, Criminal Law & Procedure, and Appellate Procedure pages. As you scan each of these pages, look at “The Law” section to find links to related sections of the Wisconsin Statutes, United States Code, etc. Also note that some topics include a Directories section.

  • Civil Law - Access basic information about lawsuits, how a case moves through the court system, and an overview of civil procedure. Read tips to help you decide whether to go to court or mediate. Also, find links to information about the administrative hearing process.
  • Criminal Law - Find general information about criminal law in Wisconsin as well as links to relevant Wisconsin Statutes covering the criminal code, criminal procedure, classification of felonies & misdemeanors, increased penalties, etc. Familiarize yourself with the various steps of a trial as well as a defendant's rights during a trial.
  • Appellate Procedure - Locate information about appealing a case in either a Wisconsin or federal court. Also, find links to information about administrative appeals and judicial review.

How to Access Supreme Court Oral Arguments

With the Wisconsin Supreme Court back in session, keep in mind that you may listen to oral arguments as they are happening. You may also listen to previously recorded oral arguments for cases dating from Sept. 1997. These and the schedule of upcoming arguments are available on this page of the Wisconsin Court System website.

In the News

Social Security Numbers: Federal and State Laws Restrict Use of SSNs, yet Gaps Remain
This recent report to the New York State Assembly by the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) outlines public and private sector use of the Social Security number. The GAO found that, although Congress and many states have enacted legislation restricting use and disclosure of SSN's, gaps remain in both the public and private sectors with regard to protecting individuals’ personal information from fraud and identity theft. Appendices to the report include "Federal Statutes That Authorize or Mandate the Collection and Use of SSNs by Government Entities", "Federal Laws Affecting Information Resellers, CRAs, and Health Care Organizations," and "Examples of Enacted State SSN Legislation Restricting Use."

PACER, which provides online access to federal court case information and documents, has announced that it recently reached a milestone of 500,000 user accounts. For more information on instant PACER registration and how to access federal court case information, view the announcement.

  Site aims to provide easier access to news content

According to a recent survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 30 percent of adults use the Internet to follow the news. The study also found that 90 percent of “online adults said the internet had improved their ability to get news and information that they can’t get elsewhere.”

Considering the large number of free online news sources on the Web, these statistics are not surprising. However, free online news sources often require “free registration” and a password. In exchange for news content, you must provide personal information and your email address, which may result in increased spam to your inbox. If you are tired of filling out lengthy forms and keeping track of passwords for various news sites, consider using Bugmenot.com. It allows web users to enter the URL of a site requiring free registration and get a list of shared user names and passwords that can be used on that site. In other words, the service relies on users to create and share dummy accounts. Bugmenot.com does offer website owners a couple of "outs:"  it does not share passwords for paid content sites, and a site owner may request that its URL be added to Bugmenot's list of "automatically blocked" sites. To learn more about Bugmenot.com, see its FAQ and tutorial.

What’s new at Google

The techies at Google always seem to be cooking up something new. Just last month Google jumped into the blog searching arena with its own blog search tool, appropriately named Google Blog Search.

You may remember the hype of Gmail, introduced as Google’s “invitation only” web email service in March of 2004. Gmail is still available by invitation only, but you can now receive a coveted invitation by giving Google your mobile phone number. Google will then text message you an invitation code. See the Gmail account sign up page for more details. Once you have a Gmail account, you may wish to try Google Talk, another new tool providing an instant messaging service and voice chat program.

Send your suggestions for future legal research Tech Tips to the editor.

Odds 'n' Endings -- Julie Tessmer

October is Disability Employment Awareness Month. The United States Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy provides national leadership to increase employment opportunities for adults and youth with disabilities while striving to eliminate barriers to employment.

Other October Notables

6 - The American Library Association (ALA) was founded in 1876.

13 - The cornerstone on the White House was laid in 1792. The newly constructed presidential residence got its name from the white-gray Virginia freestone bricks used to build it. President John Adams was the first president to reside in the executive mansion in the new capital city of Washington. More history and a tour of the White House as it is today are available on this White House webpage.

18 - Alaska Day, which commemorates the formal transfer of the Alaskan territory from Russia to the United States in 1867.

23 - Happy Birthday to novelist Michael Crichton. His titles include The Andromeda Strain, The Terminal Man, Congo, The Great Train Robbery and Disclosure. You can check out Disclosure and other legal fiction titles from our Prose and Cons collection.

30 – On Halloween Eve in October 1938, at the young age of 23, Orson Welles and his Mercury Theatre on the Air broadcast “The War of the Worlds,” causing a nationwide panic. Thousands of listeners believed that Martians were truly invading the Earth. After the incident, the Federal Communications Commission investigated the program but found that no laws had been violated. Today there are FCC rules prohibiting the broadcast of false information concerning crimes and catastrophes. Also worth noting: Orson Welles was born in Kenosha, Wisconsin in 1915, and he died on October 10, 1985. For more, see this biography.

Ask a Librarian:  800-322-9755; 608-267-9696 (In Madison); wsll.ref@wicourts.gov
Library Hours/Locations:  WSLL (WI State Law Library), DCLRC (Dane Co. Legal Resource Center), MLRC (Milwaukee Legal Resource Center)
Visit Our Website: http://wilawlibrary.gov

Connie Von Der Heide 608-267-2202 Comments welcome!